DAC 2017: Post event meta analysis

Dota 2 Siddharth “Gopya” Gopujkar

The most exciting part about a new meta in Dota 2 is how all the professional teams explore and experiment with new heroes and the community gets to experience a good bit of diversity in the gameplay. But after a couple of months, players start to recognize the strength of certain heroes over others and it normally culminates in a stale meta with the same picks over and over again. And this is exactly what happened at the Dota 2 Asia Championships (DAC) 2017.

DAC 2017 took place in Shanghai at the Oriental Sports Center. Hosted by PGL, the event had two groups of six teams each who would battle it out for favorable spots in the brackets at the main event. The tournament started off quite interestingly with teams trying out a number of strategies in the group stages. DAC 2017 actually has the best record, alongside TI 6, for the most number of heroes contested in a tourney.


Summary of the contested heroes at TI 6, The Boston Major and DAC 2017


Tournament Total matches Picked but not banned Picked and banned Banned but not picked Total
TI 6 171 23 82 0 105
Boston Major 84 14 75 4 93
DAC 2017 91 22 74 9 105



Granted the total hero pool in TI 6 was a bit smaller as teams did not have the option of picking Arc Warden, Pit Lord and Monkey King, but the number of games for TI 6 are nearly twice those for the other two events. As Peter 'ppd' Dager said, every tournament creates a meta of its own as it proceeds into its final stages; more so if it is a long tournament like DAC. And that was exactly what happened as we transitioned from the group stages to the main event. Here’s a look at the top 5 most contested heroes at the main event (32 games) of DAC 2017:

                               Most contested heroes in the DAC 2017 main event (source: from dotabuff)

I usually don’t like to use words like ridiculous, but this is ridiculous! The top 5 heroes made it to the draft (either picked or banned) in more than 80% percent of the games with Alchemist topping the charts with a staggering 91% (29 games out of 32). A layman watching Dota 2 for the first time would probably have guessed it was compulsory to have these heroes while drafting. Literally every game, the first phase of picks and bans would revolve around Monkey King, Earth Spirt, Alchemist, Magnus and Lifestealer and only after they were dealt with would the others be shown consideration.

I’m not saying the tournament wasn’t interesting. There were some great games and a lot of them went down to the wire. But one of the major components of excitement in a game of Dota 2 is the draft and when there is a repetition of so many heroes, it kind of deflates the excitement a little. After all, there is a pool of 113 heroes you can pick from! To extend the stats a bit more, here is a summary of the pick, ban and win percentages for the top 10 heroes from the main event:


Picks, bans and win percentages of the top 10 heroes from the DAC 2017 main event (source: dotabuff)


If the group stages are taken into an account as well, the two standout heroes for the tournament were Lifestealer and Monkey King with the heroes boasting of a total win rate of 60.61% and 58.54% respectively. I presume we will be witnessing patch 7.05 before the Kiev Major (considering the pace at which Valve is introducing new patches) and these five heroes will be hit by the nerf hammer. I know Earth Spirit has been nerfed time and again, but as players like Jerax and Boboka keep showing us, it is still head and shoulders above most position four heroes.

If I had to pick two of these who I felt most needed a change, I would go with Monkey King and Alchemist. As Johan 'N0tail' Sundstein once said (I’m sure most players will agree), vision is the key to winning a game of Dota 2. And Monkey King took it a bit too far. The hero can provide 400 unobstructed vision while on a tree, something that can only be matched by Keeper of the Light or Night Stalker, that too only when they have a Scepter! Even if he’s right beside an enemy tower, the tower will do literally nothing.

It was exciting at first to watch the latest addition to Dota 2 in Captains Mode games, but after a point it became so repetitive, I’m sure most of the community is already sick of it. And then there is the Alchemist. Not that he was buffed, but the ability to confer Moon Shard to a hero along with the Aghanim’s Scepter is sort of an indirect buff. I’d like to see the return of the fighting Alchemist instead of the current, one directional one that just farms, farms and farms.

While most heroes made it to the minds of the drafters at least once, there were some that were completely ignored. They will get some consolation by being mentioned here however.


Heroes totally ignored at DAC 2017 (source: dotabuff)


With the exception of Treant Protector (who is currently disabled in Captains Mode), seven heroes remained untouched through DAC 2017, group stages and the main event combined. Bristleback and Death Prophet have been out of the meta for far too long and these are two heroes that definitely deserve a major buff (though they have been getting small buffs in talents, it isn’t enough to make the cut in the professional scene). Bristleback was considered a versatile hero a few patches back with the porcupine from down under being picked up in position one, two and three roles. Death Prophet had that purple patch (pun intended) where her Spirit Siphon dealt pure damage. After that was nerfed, she has been forgotten, along with her sweet sisters.

From heroes, we now come to the game durations. And if observed, the trend has drifted in certain direction after the introduction of Dota 2 7.00 and Shrines. Let’s look at what stats say for game durations at two events – The Boston Major (Patch 7.88) and DAC 2017 (Patch 7.04).

                                                      Distribution of game times at the Boston Major


                                               Distribution of game times at the Dota 2 Asia Championships 2017  

The duration of games on average has increased. A majority of the games were stacked in the 30-40 minute period earlier, but with the advent of Shrines (outside ones for map control and inside ones for high ground defense), it has become harder for  teams to penetrate the opponent’s base. We are witnessing more games in the 40-50 and 50-60 minute categories. Another reason for it is the talents that have come into play. With talents that offer reduced respawn time, more experience and added gold per minute, even if a team is not doing too well, talents act as a something of a catchup mechanic.

The longer games are always welcome as we get to see more Dota. But the English panel at the DAC made a valid point regarding the elongation of games. If early game sustenance has become a lot easier, where do deathballing or pushing lineups now stand? Strats that aim at grouping up and finishing the game in 20-25 minutes have taken a hit which is why we are seeing so little of heroes like Lycan, Drow and Death Prophet. How will they possibly make a return?

With less than a month to go before Kiev, it remains to be seen whether Valve will decide on changing the state of matters or let it be as it is until after the Major is done. I for one really hope we don’t see a lot of gold diggers and tree hogging Kings in Ukraine.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

All stats taken from www.dotabuff.com



Who do you think should be hit harder by the nerf hammer?

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Monkey King
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Siddharth “Gopya” Gopujkar
A Mechanical Engineer who is as interested in the mechanics of DotA 2 as every machine he studies. Pursuing his Master's at the Michigan Technological University.


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